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Belbin Australia Rep Update: Working Relationships

Ever wondered why a relationship at work suddenly went a bit haywire when the reporting relationship changed (e.g. you or they got promoted)?

And it's not always why you might think.

One of the great things about The Belbin Model is that it offers great insight into not just individuals, but also into the dynamics of relationship pairs, teams and the total organisation.

The relationship dynamics between each of the Belbin Team Role styles can be impacted profoundly by the reporting relationship that exists between them. Some Team Role styles will work far better as peers, or perhaps when one is either managing or reporting to the other based upon the way these behavioural clusters will manifest under pressure.

Each Team Role style can bring out the best or the worst in others. This can be based on how situationally aware, or not, each party may be of how they are impacting others, and also down to basic behavioural traits inherent within the other. Whether peer, direct report or as manager of the other can alter the way these behaviours blend or clash.

Take for example the simple example of a Plant and and Implementer.

This scenario is one we have seen play out in a number of ways over the years. Of course strongly held views, the quality of their personal relationship dyanmics and their professionalism can help to avert the extremes, but as a general rule here's what we often see....

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CAN WORK WELL: Plant as MANAGER of the Implementer

When the creative yet potentially chaotic Plant manages the Implementer, the Implementer's reliable, dependable and sytematic approaches can be of enormous value to help channel and "implement" the Plant's ideas and to translate often vague Plant visions into workable actions. The Implementer helps translate visionary, yet often hard to grasp"Plant Speak" into language and approaches that the rest of the team can understand (once they develop a good working relationship as a pair).

The Plant may also assist the busy Implementer to broaden their view of their current role beyond the limits of existing systems and procedures that may see the Implementer succumb to rigid inflexibility.

It's potentially a nice symbiotic relationship where the strengths of each can work easily to offset one another's weaknesses.


Here challenges may arise as the hard working yet sometimes inflexible Implementer becomes frustrated by the creative Plant always seeking what they may see as better and more original ways to do things. For a well organised Implementer they may rightly expect things to be done sytematically and as per the team's stated plan and dismiss the Plant off handedly.

The Implementer may thus rigidly stifle the potential creativity of the Plant by imposing what they see as merely practical boundaries, limitations and predictable stages to the Plant who will often crave freedom of both thought and action. The Plant's morale and motivation can suffer.

Again, the dynamics of each working relationship is to be taken on its own merits as a number of factors may influence the unique chemistry that exists between two people. The above example is pretty typical though of the Plant and Implementer dynamic that can occur in those circumstances.

Ideally a detailed "Belbin Working Relationship Report" is produced, and this is used to offer insights into the potential areas of strength and struggle based upon the profiles of both people. Real world strategies can then be devised by those people to make the most of the working relationship.

In many instances a Team Role relationship may even seem ideal at first, as there are two people who get along like the proverbial "house on fire", but they may not be terribly productive together in a professional sense (for example two Teamworkers).

The Working Relationhip report is yet another great feature of the Belbin Model and the Interplace system.

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